June 17, 2014

Con Recap: Bizarre AC II, Tropicana Casino

The past few years have seen me discover and fall in love with horror conventions. I have been fortunate enough to be able to get to a few of them a year and have collected a nice autograph collection. The problem is that I look at guest lists for other shows that I can't get to and really wish I could. That brings me to Bizarre AC, a new con (this is only its second offering) in Atlantic City. The guest list featured a few guests that I really wanted to meet. The problem was if I could afford to get there. As it turns out, one night stay at the hotel really wasn't that bad (especially split with a couple of friends).

First up, a little video clip show:

So, Friday came and all day at work I sat there just itching to get out. I knew where I was headed. It took forever for 5PM to roll around, but when it did, I was out. Picked up my friends and by 6:30 I was driving through a driving rainstorm south towards Bizarre AC. It took us awhile, but as 10:00 arrived on the clock we arrived at the Tropicana casino. We did not go to the con that night, it was a bit late and we had planned for Saturday, so we spent the evening hitting one of the restaurants and losing some money on the slot machines before heading to bed.

Saturday dawned and this is where the real fun begins. We checked out of our room and made our way to the convention floor. Being my first time at this con, I was not quite sure what to expect. What we found was pleasantly surprising. The first thing we noticed was the expanse, two huge rooms contained the majority of thr celebrities and vendors, with a separate room for Corey Feldman, as well as a couple of rooms for panels and one more for movie screenings. The next thing we noticed was that the attendance felt a little light. There were a good number of people, but I still had plenty of room to get around and no waits for anything. Good for me, not so sure about the vendors, though.

The first people we went to meet were the Hellraiser folks. Now, I had already met them (photos posted previously), but one of my friends is a new Hellraiser fan and a longtime fan of Nightbreed and was anxious to meet them. So, we went right down the line, Doug Bradley (Pinhead), Ashley Laurence (Kirsty), Simon Bamford (Butterball), Barbie Wilde (Female Cenobite), and Nicholas Vince (Chatterer). I have to say, if you ever get the chance, you should meet them. They are all incredibly nice and gracious folks, love talking to fans and are just a lot of fun. Ashley Laurence even notice my friend's cat's paw tattoo leading to a conversation about their cats.

From there I went to meet Joanna Cassidy. She has had a great career with films like Bladerunner, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Six Feet Under, and countless others. We had a conversation about her being from New Jersey, an area near where my dad was from. I had her sign a Star Trek poster I recently started, she played T'Les in a couple of episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise.

Next we moved to the second large room of guests and vendors where I went to meet Ted White, the man behind the Jason Voorhees mask in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, one of my favorites of the series. White was one of the reasons I went to this con and I am glad I did. This man has had an incredible career, beginning as an extra in The Sands of Iwo Jima in 1949 to working in stunts and doubling John Wayne! I complimented him on his career, he responded “60 years will do that.” He then told me that his role as Jason is the one that means the most to him because the fans remember it and he gets to go to shows and meet them and talk about it. A true gentleman.

Just down the row was Victor Miller. This is the man who started it all, working alongside Sean S. Cunningham, Miller wrote the screenplay for the original Friday the 13th. We talked briefly about the longevity and impact of the film. It was great speaking to him. He was the second big reason for me to go to Bizarre AC.

In between Victor and Ted was Erich Anderson, who played Rob Dier in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. As Ted White was signing my poster, he noticed it and recognized it (I had met him last year at another convention). He looked for where he signed it and mentioned he has not seen another poster like it. This time I had him sign my Star Trek poster, he was on an episode of TNG called “Conundrum.” He told a story of being in makeup next to Patrick Stewart, watching him get angry and throw his script. When asked what we wrong, he was upset they were losing their memories again! He also mentioned had not signed anything Star Trek before!

We moved back to the larger room with a gorgeous poster I got from Quiltface Studios for the cast members of The Human Centipede to sign. The were sitting at tables lined up in their centipede postions. I began with the rear position. Ashlynn Yennie played Jenny and was wonderful to meet. Funny and sweet and loved the poster I had. Next to her was Ashley C. Williams, who played Lindsay (she also appeared as an extra in Willow). Finally, there was the head of the centipede, Akihiro Kitamura. This guy was hilarious and full of energy. Would love to meet these three again!

Next on the list was quite possibly the number one person I wanted to meet, and he did not disappoint! It was none other than Christopher Young, composer on such films as Hellraiser, Drag Me to Hell, Sinister, and many others. He was the first composer I have gotten to meet at a con and he was as intriguing as you may think. He is a little crazy, completely genuine, and vary appreciative of fans. We talked a little about the importance of music in film, especially genre films, and the joy of listening to it apart from the movies. Had him sign my Hellraiser poster and a copy of the Hellbound score.

Next up was Sean Whalen from The People Under the Stairs, Men in Black, and a lot of other stuff. I met him to sign my Star Trek poster, he played an alien on an episode of Enterprise. He was pretty cool and told us about how he had to deliver his first lengthy speech on the Enterprise episode in one take as it was a long tracking shot that had to start over for any miscue.

The last celebrity I met was Lloyd Kaufman, the crazy man behind Troma. He was signing (for free, as usual) and taking pictures with a Toxie mask. I learned that Citizen Toxie was shot in my area. I had no idea, now I need to go and watch it and see if I recognize anything.

We attended a couple of panels. The first was the Hellraiser panel which ended in a proposal read by Doug Bradley! It was a rather memorable moment. The other was for The Human Centipede and we learned some very funny stories from the set of the film. Again, if you get a chance to meet these guys, do it!

Now, it wouldn't be a con without some awesome costumes and crazy clowns! There were plenty of them around, including Pennywise, Bonjo (back on his stilts, sadly no picture), Krunk the Klown, GRIN, and others like Father Evil. It was great seeing all the work that went into the costumes.

There were also some great vendors, like Super Creepz, Quiltface Studios, Troma (featuring Lloyd Kaufman), Nevermore Designs, and others. There were even some tattoo artists working the con, I really wanted to get a piece and even liked some of the designs, I just didn't know where I wanted to put one.

Overall, Bizarre AC was a blast, laid back atmosphere, great guests, fantastic vendors, and plenty to do. Plus, if you ever got bored, you were on top of a casino! Hope to be back the next time they throw a bash like this.

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